Vincent Gono, Features Editor
A party of perpetual splits is a fitting phrase that describes what Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has morphed itself into as the party has been failing the test of a democratic rebirth with recent political developments where contradictory statements with regards to the coalition have been issued are a pointer to that.
Mr Tsvangirai recently sprung to dismiss statements by the party’s secretary-general Mr Douglas Mwonzora that the MDC-T had started selecting Parliamentary candidates insinuating that the party had effectively shut out coalition partners.
Mr Mwonzora was quoted in the private media saying Mr Tsvangirai had announced plans to field candidates in all contested constituencies and wards throughout the country, leaving out his coalition partners.
Mr Mwonzora is reported to belong to a faction led by MDC-T deputy president Ms Thokozani Khupe and the clique has openly campaigned against an opposition coalition ahead of the 2018 elections. However, in a statement Mr Tsvangirai had no kind words.
“The statement published in the Newsday of today (yesterday) purportedly under my authority but issued by the secretary general is unfortunate, misleading and grossly false. I would like to state categorically that the MDC-T entered in to an electoral alliance agreement with its partners on August 5 2017. That agreement includes seat allocations and it’s binding on all parties,” he said.
He went on: “The agreement is informed by our National Council resolutions of December 2016 and August 2017 and cannot therefore be rescinded by a personal opinion of a leader. The National Council, the supreme decision making body in between Congresses has been appraised at every turn on the negotiations with our Alliance Partners.
In addition our secretary-general or any leader other than president has no authority to speak on matters pertaining to the alliance unless authorised to do so by myself and such authority was not given to him.”
The confusion in the faction ridden MDC-T is threatening the existence of the grand coalition with a source privy to the goings on revealing that the faction led by Ms Khupe was diametrically pitted against the idea of a coalition hence the machinations by Mr Mwonzora to scuttle the project.
“That there are factions in the MDC-T is as clear as daylight. MaKhupe, Mwonzora and many others have refused to be fans of the coalition hence the idea of throwing spanners to scuttle the coalition through reckless utterances against the coalition.
“The clique like anyone else in the MDC-T feels that the time is now where president Tsvangirai should leave office on grounds of his health and appoint a successor but fears are that once he announces a successor the party may split. He cannot appoint Khupe for obvious reasons that range from acceptability given that our national politics have been bordering on tribal sentiments apart from their general failure to go along.
“He thinks Khupe can’t steer the party to victory while Messrs Nelson Chamisa and Eng Elias Mudzuri have the potential of splitting the party again as some among them have been linked to Zanu-PF.
So he is in a catch 22 situation,” said a source from within the party who also hinted that there were others who believed that Mr Tsvangirai was still the mega brand and the face of the opposition.
He said the biggest undoing in the MDC-T was its failure to appreciate divergent political views.
The party, he says, has been found wanting on issues to do with internal democracy. It has been found guilty of being stiff-necked, rigid, inflexible and insensitive to the calls for leadership renewal and has often used purging as a strong rod of anger to those that talk about change.
As a result, he argues, the MDC-T has generously continued to churn out more political parties making Zimbabwe a multi-party democracy although most of the parties are so small that they can hardly be called parties, just like a stake of timber cannot be called a ship.
Some of the parties are so small that they could easily be defeated by a harem of old maids if they were to contest in an election.
There are 20 plus political parties – some dormant while others are active — thanks to the advances of information technology – only on social media – without voters who go to the polling stations to cast the ballot.
Other political parties – like Egypt Munenzwa’s political outfit – only comes to life two months before a national election and provide comic stories to dilute the tense election environment before receiving their perennial drubbing, sending them into hibernation till the next election.
But that’s what defines multi-party democracy and Zimbabwe has to live with that.
The MDC has been faced with a myriad of problems, some of them stemming from a lack of a plausible ideology as a rallying point as it was created as an amorphous body by people with disparate interests connected by the threadbare link of the “Mugabe Must Go” mantra.
He has gone and that opposition anthem has to be dropped from the opposition politics’ music charts. Its dropping has coincided with the group disintegrating like amoeba.
Even the movement’s handlers in the regime change agenda are becoming weary with its perennial electoral losses and the chaos currently brewing in the opposition party.
With operation restore legacy gaining regional and international applause Zanu-PF pulled the rug under the MDC’s feet, leaving it plagued by numerous problems including the lack of internal democracy and dissent within the political movement now the order of the day.
As a result of the lack of democracy, we have lived to see cups and saucers flying as various “kitchen cabinets” break away to build their own little homes much to the chagrin of their sponsors.
With a few months before the next elections, the opposition parties are revelling and wasting time in kindergarten debates about a ball belonging to a crèche “being mine” instead of closing gaps and pushing their immobile grand dream.
The MDC- T has obviously been grandstanding — using its position of being the better loser among hopeless losers – as the convener of the grand coalition – but Jacob Mafume once opined, “Tsvangirai should come with an open mind otherwise he is leading himself to nowhere. We were the first to come up with the idea of forming a grand coalition.”
This goes to show the titanic battle that lies ahead in trying to coalesce the small parties around a single leader they have no respect for after he failed to put his own party in order.
The MDC-T, however, sees this as an issue of lightweight political parties with inflated egos wanting to punch above their weight as they immerse themselves in the belief that certain parties and individuals are bigger than others.
It therefore remains to be seen whether the grand coalition will not buckle under the weight of internal dynamics in the MDC-T that are rearing their ugly heads and threatening to tear the party into many other fragments not to give a challenge to Zanu-PF in the foreseeable future.
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